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Savory & Sweet swaps: Table Talk hosts a neighborly recipe swap and indoor picnic June 25

 

Debbie Vallette, left, and Amy King share recepes for Vallette’s Creole potato salad and King’s cashew chicken and cantaloupe salad at King’s home Monday. They plan to make the dishes for the Table Talk recipe swap and tasting June 25 at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library. The community is invited to also share a favorite recipe and dish.

Debbie Vallette, left, and Amy King share recepes for Vallette’s Creole potato salad and King’s cashew chicken and cantaloupe salad at King’s home Monday. They plan to make the dishes for the Table Talk recipe swap and tasting June 25 at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library. The community is invited to also share a favorite recipe and dish. Photo by: Mary Alice Weeks/Dispatch Staff

 

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Amy King’s raspberry pavlova is a meringue-based dessert traditional to New Zealand and Australia.

Amy King’s raspberry pavlova is a meringue-based dessert traditional to New Zealand and Australia.
Photo by: Mary Alice Weeks/Dispatch Staff

 

Amy King serves her cashew chicken salad with sliced cantaloupe and strawberries.

Amy King serves her cashew chicken salad with sliced cantaloupe and strawberries.
Photo by: Mary Alice Weeks/Dispatch Staff

 

Debbie Vallette’s Creole potato salad is flavored with Zatarains crab boil seasonings and creole mustard.

Debbie Vallette’s Creole potato salad is flavored with Zatarains crab boil seasonings and creole mustard.
Photo by: Mary Alice Weeks/Dispatch Staff

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

Let's confess. It can be boring cooking the same old thing time after time. We could use some inspiration. Cookbooks are all well and good, but what if you could actually taste a dish before you make it, not just read a list of ingredients and steps. In the market for some fresh ideas? The June 25 Table Talk will have them.  

 

This month, the Friends of the Columbus-Lowndes Library and the Hitching Lot Farmers' Market have combined efforts to present informative guest speakers each Wednesday at noon in the library. The common denominator is food. Already, Table Talk faithful have heard Mississippi author Carolyn Haines on her new "Bone-a-Fied Delicious" cookbook, Gulf Coast marshmallow maven Sharon Hodge and, today, Oxford-based chef John Currence on his cookbook, "Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey."  

 

What more fitting way to wrap up June's talks than with a recipe swap and tasting? The community is invited to share a recipe (and dish, if you will) at an indoor picnic in the library's second-floor meeting room at 314 Seventh St. N., beginning at 11:30 a.m. next Wednesday. 

 

"We think it will be a lot of fun," said Friends' president Jo Shumake. "It will be totally potluck."  

 

Margo Bretz Toledano, who co-chairs the event with Shumake and suggested the swap idea, said, "Columbus really has a lot of good home cooks, and we thought this would be enjoyable for everyone." Toledano is active with Friends of the Library and also serves on the farmers' market advisory board. 

 

A tempting sampling 

 

Amy King and Debbie Vallette of Columbus prepared a few personal favorites Monday that they expect to make again for June 25. Both are skilled home cooks -- and fans of Table Talks, which are generally presented on Wednesdays of alternate months throughout the year. 

 

Valette's Creole potato salad is a nod to her former home of New Orleans. She and her family relocated to Columbus after 2005's Hurricane Katrina. 

 

"Everybody has a potato salad recipe; this one is a Cajun potato salad I've adapted over time," said Vallette, who learned to cook from her mother and grandmother. Her flavorful dish stands out from the crowd, with its creole mustard and crab boil seasoning. 

 

King's cashew chicken salad made with grapes and pineapple tidbits is "ideal for a luncheon or light weeknight supper," the Friends' board member said. After 20 years as a military spouse, King is accustomed to entertaining. One of her choice desserts is a pavlova, a meringue-based sweet believed to have been created in honor of the ballet dancer Anna Pavlova after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.  

 

King, who has lived in Columbus about five years, enjoys working with ingredients she keeps at hand in a well-appointed kitchen and grows her own tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, beans and peppers.  

 

Both cooks urge food lovers to participate in the recipe swap.  

 

"There's going to be something there you haven't made before," remarked King, who teaches English and writing at East Mississippi Community College. Don't feel pressured to bring something unusual or exotic. "What may be a go-to staple for you may be exactly what someone else needs," she added. 

 

 

 

How to take part 

 

Everyone bringing a dish to taste is asked to come at 11 a.m. or soon after. Provide an index card with your name and the name of the dish on it, to place next to the food. (Please also bring a serving piece.) Recipe contributors should also bring a copy of their recipe. If you prefer to email, send it to margobretz@cableone.net. The collection will be compiled and distributed to everyone who supplies a recipe.  

 

Shumake and Toledano will invite recipe contributors to tell a little of the story behind the food June 25. And if you don't have a recipe or dish to bring, come anyway, and see what's cooking in your neighbors' kitchens. 

 

 

 

CASHEW CHICKEN AND CANTALOUPE SALAD 

 

Makes 2 servings 

 

 

 

1 cup chicken, cooked and chopped 

 

1/4 cup celery, chopped 

 

1/4 cup seedless red grapes, halved 

 

1/4 cup canned pineapple tidbits, drained 

 

3 tablespoons mayonnaise 

 

2 leaves lettuce 

 

1/4 cantaloupe, seeded, peeled, cut into thin wedges 

 

2 tablespoons cashews 

 

Strawberries for garnish (if desired) 

 

 

 

  • In a medium bowl, combine chicken, celery, grapes and pineapple. Add mayonnaise; stir gently to coat. Place lettuce leaf on each individual serving plate. Arrange cantaloupe wedges over lettuce, creating a fan shape. Spoon chicken salad on lettuce and sprinkle with cashews. Garnish with strawberries.  

     

    (Source: Amy King) 

     

     

     

    RASPBERRY PAVLOVA 

     

    Serves 8 

     

     

     

    1 cup superfine sugar, divided (see note) 

     

    2 teaspoons cornstarch 

     

    1/8 teaspoon salt 

     

    3 egg whites 

     

    1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 

     

    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

     

    2 cup fresh raspberries, divided 

     

    Fresh mint and whipped cream (optional) 

     

     

     

  • Heat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw a 7-inch circle on the parchment; flip paper. (For a crunchier pavlova, opt for an 8-inch circle).  

     

  • In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt; set aside. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to high; add sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. Add vanilla and beat until mixture is glossy and sugar is incorporated, about 5 minutes.  

     

  • Transfer egg-sugar mixture to parchment paper. Carefully spread within the circle, creating a slight dip in the middle (where raspberry sauce will rest). Bake on middle rack for 1 hour. Turn off oven, crack door, and cool inside for 1 hour.  

     

  • Meanwhile, make raspberry sauce. In a small pot, combine 1 cup raspberries, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tablespoon water over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook 3 minutes, until sugar is dissolved.  

     

  • Stir in remaining cup of raspberries and pour into bowl to cool. Transfer pavlova to a plate; pour raspberry sauce on top and, if desired, garnish with mint. Whipped cream can also be spread on the pavlova before the sauce is poured on top. 

     

    (Note: you can make superfine sugar by taking regular granulated sugar and processing it briefly in a spice grinder or small food processor.) 

     

    (Source: Amy King) 

     

     

     

    CREOLE POTATO SALAD 

     

     

     

    3 pounds small red potatoes 

     

    1 Zatarains crab boil bag 

     

    1 teaspoon red pepper 

     

    1/3 cup salt (to be used in water for boiling potatoes) 

     

    3 ribs celery, two chopped (1 rib to be placed in water used for boiling potatoes) 

     

    3/4 medium white onion, chopped 

     

    2 green onions, with tops chopped 

     

    1 1/2 dill pickles, chopped 

     

    10 olives, chopped (extra used on top as garnish) 

     

    2 slices bacon, cooked and chopped 

     

    3 hard boiled eggs, 2 chopped (1 sliced on top for garnish) 

     

    1/3 cup or more of favorite mayonnaise  

     

    2-3 tablespoons Zatarains Creole mustard 

     

    Black pepper and salt, to taste 

     

    Paprika, to taste and for decoration on top 

     

     

     

  • Place potatoes in large pot with enough water to cover potatoes. Add salt, red pepper and crab boil bag, along with 1 celery rib, to water. Boil potatoes until tender. 

     

  • When tender, take pot off heat and cool down with ice cubes placed in the water. Soak potatoes for at least 1/2 hour, allowing potatoes to absorb seasonings. Then drain water. 

     

  • Cube potatoes and put in large bowl for mixing. Chop celery, white and green onion, pickles, olives, 2 hard boiled eggs and bacon and add to bowl. 

     

  • Add mayonnaise and mustard. Mix thoroughly; add salt and black pepper, to taste. Garnish top of potato salad with one sliced boiled egg and additional olives. Sprinkle top with paprika. 

     

    (Source: Debbie Vallette)

     

  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

     

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